AFC Wimbledon has started work on its new stadium at Plough Lane and hopes to begin playing home matches at the venue by the 2019-20 season.
The League One club has been based at Kingsmeadow since 2002 but has been planning to build a larger venue for some time, with the new Plough Lane ground to boast a capacity of between 9,000 and 10,000.
The project officially got underway last week with a demolition ceremony at the Plough Lane site, thus clearing the way for the new stadium. Wimbledon FC legends Dave Bassett and Ian Cooke, as well as Merton Council Leader Stephen Alambritis, were in attendance the mark the occasion.
Mark Davis, chair of the Dons Trust, said: “Supporters have not only waited patiently, but they have also actively played their part in helping this to happen, making representations to the borough about the importance of a new stadium and making their views known at London and national level.
“I’m delighted that their patience and commitment is now being rewarded with tangible progress on the ground. We look forward to a new football stadium starting construction once the site is cleared and to AFC Wimbledon playing a proud role in the sporting and cultural life of the borough.”
Wimbledon FC’s relocation to Milton Keynes and the subsequent renaming of the team as the MK Dons left a sour taste in the mouths of many supporters, and this eventually led to a group of fans forming AFC Wimbledon in 2002.
The club has enjoyed a swift rise up the leagues and now plays in the third tier of English football, along with MK Dons. One of its key aims has been to return to the club’s ‘spiritual’ home in Merton, where Wimbledon FC was based prior to the move.
Erik Samuelson, chief executive of AFC Winbledon, added: “Ever since we were reformed in 2002 we’ve been nurturing a dream of returning to a stadium of our own, back in Wimbledon.
“As a community-owned club we are delighted to be returning to our spiritual home in Plough Lane. In addition to bringing League football back to Wimbledon the new stadium will form a base from which to expand our award-winning community work.”
Image: AFC Wimbledon